Today, members of the European Parliament rejected a European Commission proposal that would have allowed the European Union to overrule local authority decisions on the banning of flights at certain times.
The vote was only a rubber-stamping of a decision taken back in January to reject this part of the airport noise proposal. However, some MEPs saw this week's vote as an opportunity to bring up an airport noise issue closer to their hearts – new flight plans in Belgium that send planes from Zaventem airport straight over Brussels city centre and the EU quarter.
Since 6 February, planes taking off from Zaventem have been using a new route ordered by the Belgian federal government. The ‘Wathelet plan' – named after its designer Melchior Wathelet, Belgium's secretary of state of environment, energy, mobility and institutional reforms – has rerouted 80% of flights that used to fly over sparsely populated areas of Flanders east of Brussels. One hundred flights a day are now flying at low altitude through Brussels city - straight over the EU institutions.